- Energy Kcal 368
- Carbohydrates g 26.3
- of which sugars g 10.4
- Protein g 9.3
- Fats g 25.1
- of which saturated fat g 14.6
- Fiber g 0.6
- Cholesterol mg 75
- Sodium mg 182
- Difficulty: Very easy
- Prep time: 5 min
- Cook time: 10 min
- Serving: 4 people
- Cost: Very low
Béchamel is an ancient basic sauce claimed by both the French and the Italians as their own creation. The most reliable theory is that it was Caterina de' Medici who imported it into France with the name it was known by at the time, i.e. "salsa colla" (glue sauce). But it was thanks to the courtier Louis de Béchameil that it became known as béchamel sauce even though Pellegrino Artusi preferred to Italianize it in his recipe book as balsamella, now obsolete. Béchamel sauce is the most versatile of cooking sauces, easy and quick to make, it will give an extra boost to all your dishes. From lasagna to baked pasta such as pasta au gratin with fennel and béchamel sauce, its possible uses are countless. It's also the perfect filling for crispy, hearty monachina eggs. Here you will discover all the secrets to obtain a creamy béchamel sauce without lumps!
How to prepare Béchamel sauce
To prepare the béchamel sauce, heat the milk in a saucepan (whole, fresh milk) 1; separately, melt the 7 tbsp (100 g) of butter over low heat 2, then turn off the heat and add the 11 tbsp (100 g) of flour all at once 3, stirring with a whisk to prevent lumps from forming. Then put the saucepan back over low heat and stir until the mixture turns golden.
You will have thus obtained what the French call roux 4; flavor the milk with nutmeg 5 and a pinch of salt (this can be done at the end, when the béchamel sauce is ready); pour a little hot milk on the roux to dilute the bottom 6, then add the rest, whisking vigorously.
Cook for 5-6 minutes over low heat until the sauce thickens 7 and starts to boil. With this recipe you will obtain an average thickness 8. Your béchamel sauce is ready: you can use it for complex dishes such as lasagna, cannelloni and many other first courses. It is excellent for flavoring roasted meat dishes, boiled vegetables, fish, soufflés, in short... it's up to you!
If you don't use your béchamel sauce immediately, pour it into a bowl and cover it with plastic wrap touching its surface, to prevent it from forming a skin. Once cold, béchamel sauce can be stored in the refrigerator, in an airtight container, for up to 2-3 days. To restore its smooth and creamy texture, just whisk it with a mixer; if you need it to be thinner, just add a little milk while whisking. Béchamel sauce can be frozen for about 1 month.
If you prefer a runnier béchamel sauce, decrease the amount of butter and flour; for a thicker béchamel sauce, increase the amount of butter and flour. If lumps form in the béchamel sauce, don't panic: just pour it through a sieve!
For a vegan version
To make a vegan version of béchamel sauce, you can replace the butter with olive or vegetable oil and the cow's milk with the non-dairy vegan milk of your choice.
For a gluten-free version
And if you want to make a gluten-free béchamel sauce, just replace the flour with any of the recommended starches available on the market with a crossed grain symbol.
Apparently, roux, the basic flour and butter sauce used to prepare béchamel sauce, was known at least a century before béchamel sauce was invented: in 1553, Sabina Welserin included it in her recipe book as a sauce to accompany meat and fish dishes.